18 Oct Bridgend 17-35 Swansea
Bridgend Ravens were blown away by a final 20 minute blitz by Swansea which saw the All Whites claim a rare victory at the Timbuild Brewery Field.
Bridgend were well in the game as the clock hit the 60 minute mark, trailing by just three points. The men from St Helen’s were in rampant form in the final quarter, crossing for two further tries to take victory – and a four try bonus point back to St Helen’s.
The game started so well for the home side with Matthew Jones giving them the lead after just two minutes with a well struck penalty. Liam Popham replied just three minutes later with a penalty of his own, before second row Huw Sutton bundled his way over for a nicely worked Swansea score. Popham added the extras to give Swansea an extended advantage.
With Bridgend’s scrum well on top, a succession of penalties for the home side saw them edge closer to the All Whites’ line. After an attempted cross kick from Matthew Jones was carried back over the tryline by a Swansea defender, the Ravens scrum powered its way forward with scrum half Harvey Nash the beneficiary of his pack’s power, scoring his first try in Bridgend colours. The evergreen Matthew Jones drew the sides level.
Jones and Popham traded missed penalties, with Jones missing a second before Popham made no mistake to give his side the lead. Shortly after, Jones was forced to leave the field with an injury, replaced by Tom Morgan.
HT Bridgend 10-13 Swansea
It was a disastrous start to the second half for the home side. Jamie Murphy’s attempted clearance kick was well charged down by former Raven Connor Tantum, who won the footrace to dot down under the posts. Popham converted and Swansea pulled ten points clear three minutes into the second half.
Credit to Bridgend, they battled back and continued to put Swansea’s pack under immense pressure, even after the departure of young Ospreys Garyn Phillips and Ben Warren. The experienced Owen Jordan and Cai Lewis were their replacements and their continued dominance in the scrum often went unrewarded by referee Craig Evans, much to the confusion of the Timbuild Brewery Field faithful.
With the fine weather conditions making for an open game, Bridgend piled the pressure on their visitors with a strong driving maul drive rewarded with a penalty try. Craig Evans also sent Swansea’s Owen Morgan to the sin bin for his role in stopping the driving maul.
The tie was on a knife edge as it entered the final quarter. Supporters Man of the Match, Joe Grabham earned Bridgend a penalty on the Swansea 10m line which Edd Howley just put wide.
As the Ravens went gung ho to try and win the game, an overthrown lineout saw Swansea sweep up field and young Osprey Josh Carrington cross out wide. Six minutes later, a long range James Davies penalty extended Swansea’s lead and took the game away from the Ravens.
With the clock about to hit 80, Connor Tantum capped a fine individual performance by dotting down a second score to secure Swansea’s bonus point. Davies made no mistake with the conversion from close range to rub salt into the Bridgend wounds.
Bridgend kept going until the final whistle; Zac O’Driscoll and Lee Murphy both going close late on. But a knock on by O’Driscoll just short of the line was the final act as Swansea cleared their lines to confirm victory and leapfrog Bridgend in the Western Conference.
Bridgend are next in action when they head to Carmarthen Quins on Saturday, looking to defend their unbeaten away record at Carmarthen Park. Kick off is 2:30pm.